The Better Social Business BlogJournalizing work in the trenches of all things web, social & interactive
Social Media Policies: Catastrophes Provide Yet Another Good Reason Your Business Really Needs a Policy in Place
On 12, Jan 2011
This BNet blog post is a good reminder as to why it’s so important to have a social media policy in place. The post, entitled Sarah Palin Shows How Social Media’s Long Memory Can Trip You, highlights just how helpful having a social media policy would be during a time of crisis.
While the post refers to the Sarah Palin/Facebook situation as it pertains to the recent Arizona shooting as a specific yet current example of crisis and social media gone wrong, the author’s main focus is that when crisis hits, social media can (and often does) present a problem for businesses. “Outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and automatic archives of Web sites aren’t easily managed once your message gets out of hand.” Deleting an inappropriate tweet or Facebook comment, for example, doesn’t mean the content being deleted is immediately wiped out from the Internet.
Folks responsible for overseeing social media activities of any kind need to define how to react to disasters proactively as much as possible and not wait for a calamity to define your plan in the moment. And this pertains to businesses of all sizes and budgets, not just the big corporations.
This all reminds me of a time when I had been speaking to a small business owner I know about the importance of having a social media policy in place so his staff members would have guidelines in place delineating the do’s and don’ts of what to post, when to post, what not to post and so on. Unfortunately, that small biz owner declined to put any policy in place. I think he was operating on trusting his employees rather than relying on any plan but having faith that folks will do the right thing (during times of crisis or not) is never a policy in it of itself.
Given the negative ramifications of not having a social media policy in place, ask yourself what you would consider to be “the right thing” to do on your company’s Facebook page, for example, during a catastrophic time in your business. Whatever your answer might be, do you know if it matches with whatever your staff members think would be “the right thing” to do?
Without having a social media policy in place, folks are working off conjecture, assumptions and good intentions. And we all know what happens with good intentions?? Sometimes, despite the best efforts, don’t good intentions often pave the way to hell? Isn’t that a saying worth noting here???
Bottom line: The best choice will always be to work off a social media policy that clearly defines an action plan during times of crisis. It would behoove most any business owner or proprietor to take the time to define some of the following, for starters:
- What content or messaging gets posted and to where?
- What can or should be shared … or not?
- Who will be the primary staff member to respond to any tweets or status updates/inquiries about a crisis?
- Under what circumstances are comments or status updates being made by Facebook “likers,” tweeters or other online community members to be deleted?
- Which social media property will be the primary communication piece during the time of crisis? Will it be your blog? Your Twitter account? YouTube?
Knowing ahead of time how you’ll navigate social media waters during the high tides of stress and calamity will mitigate the likelihood of social media engagement bloopers, tweeting taboos and status update disasters.
In between professional engagements, Mayra guest blogs and contributes content regularly to a number of publications both in and outside the Washington DC metro area. Mayra is also the editor of The Better Social Business Blog, "Pet Tech" columnist for the Virginia Maryland Dog Magazine, contributes an “e-Trends” column to the Loudoun Business Journal and is founder of the Loudoun Fairfax Local Bloggers Meetup group which mentors and helps local bloggers network, learn and exchange ideas.